This will be a short diary, but an important one. I've been more of a lurker than a writer lately, but FL-18, my congressional district, is knee-deep in what I hope will not become a bitter, prolonged fight to the finish. We need your help to send Allen West packing.
Join me beneath the squiggle for an update on the state of things in FL-18, and info on how YOU can help make sure Patrick Murphy is the next Congressman, and one last VERY satisfying victory for our side.
A brief summary of where things stand now:
Democratic Challenger Patrick Murphy declared victory at around 1 AM on election night, after 98% of precincts gave him about a 1600 vote lead, and it was known that the remaining votes to be tallied were all from heavily Democratic precincts. West declined to concede, and campaign manager Tim Edson made the following statement Wednesday morning:
"This race is far from decided and there is no rush to declare an outcome. Ensuring a fair and accurate counting of all ballots is of the utmost importance. There are still tens of thousands of absentee ballots to be counted in Palm Beach County and potential provisional ballots across the district. Late last night Congressman West maintained a district-wide lead of nearly 2000 votes until the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections "recounted" thousands of early ballots. Following that "recount" Congressman West trailed by 2,400 votes. In addition, there were numerous other disturbing irregularities reported at polls across St. Lucie County including the doors to polling places being locked when the polls closed, in direct violation of Florida law, thereby preventing the public from witnessing the procedures used to tabulate results. The St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections office clearly ignored proper rules and procedures, and the scene at the Supervisor's office last night could only be described as complete chaos. Given the hostility and demonstrated incompetence of the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections, we believe it is critical that a full hand recount of the ballots take place in St. Lucie County. We will continue to fight to ensure every vote is counted properly and fairly, and accordingly will pursue all legal means necessary."
So yeah, that's not exactly a concession.
The official combined election results from Palm Beach, Martin, and Saint Lucie Counties are:
Patrick Murphy - 160,328
Allen West - 157,872
Difference - Murphy +2456
The margin required by FL law to trigger an automatic recount is 0.5% of the total votes cast, which in this case would be 1591 votes. This means we're substantially outside the margin, but West has not given up.
Here's where things stand, legally speaking: West has filed two injunctions in Palm Beach and Saint Lucie Counties to impound the ballots, pending the outcome of those hearings. Martin County, which West won handily, was not included. Those hearings are scheduled for 5 PM Thursday in Palm Beach and an unspecified time Friday in Saint Lucie County. The SOE's in both counties have sealed the ballots and posted a guard until the next phase of this thing.
Pending the outcome of those hearings, we'll know more. It's encouraging that State Supervisor of Elections Chris Cate said:
"If the percentage does not fit within the statutory criteria for recounts, there exists no statutory mechanism for a candidate, group or anyone else to have a recount done by the state or any supervisor of elections."This would indicate that there's good reason to believe the request for a recount will be denied, but this IS Florida, after all, so who knows what will happen.
I'm writing today because this is my district, my home, and we're in trouble. Allen West raised over $17 million in this race, and spent about $13.5 million as of the final reporting period. That indicates to me he may have as much as $3.5M cash on hand, and NOTHING TO LOSE.
Here's the full text of the email I just got from Patrick's campaign:
Urgent Update: West Trying to Overturn ResultsPlease Give Generously. I know it's been a long cycle, I know we're all feeling high on the tremendous accomplishment of the last 18 months and the last two wonderful days, but please, folks, PLEASE open up those wallets one last time and save my district from this lunatic. Let's make sure the deep pockets of the Tea Party don't take this one last victory from us this cycle.
Not sure if you have heard, but even before Election Day ended, Allen West has been making false accusations about the electoral process. He is refusing to concede and claims the result is illegitimate. West has over $2 million in the bank, has hired teams of lawyers, and has filed two lawsuits.
When other campaigns have been faced with similiar situations, they have been burdened with legal bills and lengthy and expensive fights that could go on for weeks -- months even. We need urgent resources for our Victory Protection Fund to make sure we can protect this victory.
We would not be asking for more funds if it was not so urgent. We threw everything we had at winning in the last few days. We can't let West try to take away our voices just because he has millions in the bank. Please consider a gift today.
This victory is ours. Thank you for all that you have done to help me.
Florida's 18th District
Don't do it for me. Don't do it for Patrick. Do it for the 104-year old woman I spoke to on Tuesday, who told me that she'd voted for every Democrat on the ballot since FDR, and that she hadn't been able to leave her home due to illness for almost a year, but went to the polls on Tuesday to defeat Allen West and Mitt Romney. Or do it for the 18-year old first time voter I talked to on the very next call, the one who was inspired by the story I told her about her elderly fellow voter, and promised to grab a car full of her friends and get in line.
This is a district full of people in need, people from all kinds of socioeconomic backgrounds and walk of life. We have Jupiter Island and Tiger Wood's massive mansion, but we also have Fort Pierce's Avenue D and some of the worst gang violence in the country. Only one man in this race cares as much about the problems of the latter as much as the former, and only one man in this race will work for everyone in between.
If you're able to give, please drop a note in the comments. I hope to show this to the guys and girls over at the field office and let them know they have our support. It's an amazing group of people who ran a tremendous campaign and I'm in their debt. Please help me pay them back for the work they've done by securing victory.
Note: Any ActBlue donations made now that are unneeded in a potential legal battle will be applied to the 2014 Primary. So if it makes a difference, don't think of it as your last donation of 2012, think of it as your first toward a better 114th Congress!